Corpus welcomes students for the Undergraduate Degree (the so-called CST Tripos) including those who also want to read
part III of the course in a fourth year. We also welcome postgraduate candidates for the Masters and PhD in Computer Science.
|| Ishaan read Computer Science at Corpus and this photo of him demonstrating his second-year group project features
on the department's CS3 web site.
Computer Science Tripos: As explained in the general
Computer Science undergraduates on the 75 percent option
devote nearly their whole time to reading Computing. The exception is that 25 percent of the first year is spent reading
Maths For Natural Scientists.
Alternatively, in the first year, you can read a Natural Sciences option for 25 percent of your time. Or
one can read Mathematics with Computer Science, but the entry requirements for this are
stricter, involving one or more STEP papers.
It is also possible to read Computer Science with Social Psychology in the first year.
The usual conditional offer given by Corpus is A*A*A at A Level, with one of the subjects required to be Mathematics and with Further Mathematics also highly favoured. Similar offers are also made on the basis of appropriate qualifications such as Scottish Advanced Highers or the International Baccalaureate.
Selection is based on a range of academic criteria including your achieved and predicted examination results and interview performance.
Applicants to Corpus sit a written test when they come for interview.
They were previously required to sit the Thinking Skills Assessment Test (TSA) but now
we use a written test prepared by a consortium of Colleges:
CSAT Admissions Test.
There will normally be two interviews, both subject-specific.
Interview candidates will be asked to work through three or four
brief exercises designed to reveal deep understanding of relevant A-level
An ability to apply mathematical knowledge and skills to unfamiliar problems is very important.
The field of decision/discrete mathematics is especially relevant.
Candidates who have done or are doing Physics A-level may well be asked
about a recent practical experiment so that we can assess what they
have learned from it.
A year off? Deferred entry is welcomed, particularly if the
focus is on relevant work experience. An ideal placement would start
as a summer student in the research division of a large UK or
multi-national company. Extending a summer studentship to the whole
year can be extremely worthwhile and some companies will go to on to
offer sponsorships to gap students. Working in a computing or
electronics shop or IT department of a non-technical company is
unlikely to be a particularly useful preparation for the course.
Example Interview Questions
With so many people achieving high marks in their examinations, the interview remains an important part of the applications procedure.
Interview questions seek to not only discover whether a candidate is completely fluent with mathematics and related subjects, but also to
explore whether they deeply understand the material and so can address it in fresh directions.
Interviews generally involve the candidate sketching diagrams or
equations with pen and paper as the interviewers watch and
The interview consists of a combination of maths
questions and more subject-specific questions (which also tend to be
When you are ready, please click on the '♣A' links to see a brief note regarding the style of expected answer.
Typical maths questions for Computer Science:
- When we hit a metallic object it can make a sound that is essentially a decaying harmonic motion. What is the basic formula for the position of part of the object with respect to time? Can this be expressed as the real part of a less complex expression?
- If we are trying to find out the height of an unseen person and allowed only questions whose answer is yes or no, what accuracy
might we expect to achieve in determining their height after five questions? ♣A
- With a rectangular table of binary digits it is always possible to add an extra row and an extra column so that every row and every column
of the resulting table has an even number of ones and zeros in it. Explain why. Is it always possible to add a row and column to a table binary digits
where every row and every column of the resultant table has an odd number of binary digits? ♣A
Besides maths exercises, the following more subject-specific questions are typical of what might be
discussed during the undergraduate admissions interview:
Long division and long multiplication are methods of doing
arithmetic. What are their essential common properties as captured by
the word 'long' and as compared with any other method for
multiplication or division ?
- A block diagram for a domestic television set from the 1950's
would contain a display unit, an audio amplifier and a tuner. Since
then, many additions have been made to television architecture, such
as the inclusion of colour, stereo sound, infra-red remote control,
video input sockets and teletext. Can you sketch the original block
diagram and then show how the block diagram has evolved as one or two
of these extra facilities are incorporated?
- The British Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) entered all of its
driver and vehicle license information into a large computer centre in Swansea UK in 1974.
Estimate how much information needed to be entered? Can a modern smartphone host a database
of that size? Why does the DVLA still need a thirteen-story building if computers have become so much smaller?
- The London 2012 Olympic stadium incorporates a distributed visual display
composed of approximately one LED per stadium seat. Estimate what resolution
image would spectators looking from one side to the other experience? The LEDs were actually
arranged in small panels spaced every few seats. Describe how you would envisage the system
architecture, consisting of the individual display panels, a central controller and any other
- The NASA moon landings were possible owing to computer simulations of the flight trajectories. These
simulations were basically numerical solutions of differential equations that could not be solved by hand.
Give an example of a simple differential equation and explain how it behaves or how you might write a program
that models its behaviour.
We do not necessarily expect any programming experience from candidates: just a strong interest in computers in general. Candidates will only be asked to sketch out code fragments
if they have previously studied programming.
All questions copyright DJ Greaves, Corpus Christi College, 2012.
Master of Philosophy in Advanced Computer Science:
The M Phil in Advanced Computer Science was a new course, first offered in October 2010. Corpus welcomes students for this course.
Doctor of Computer Science:
Corpus welcomes postgraduate computer scientists reading for the PhD degree. Applicants should read the departmental web pages in order to find a programme or topic of research that they would like to follow and then apply via the Board of Graduate Studies.